Steve Alford's 16-month start at UCLA has been an inarguable success.
That's how a CBS (Fiction) Writer Matt Norlander starts his article on Steve Alford. Kind of like his website, it is at best an incomplete picture and at worst nonsensical. However, it is easy to figure out his goal when the measuring stick is:
Had UCLA missed the NCAAs the last two years and put up 18 wins per season, it's fair to say a lot of college basketball fans wouldn't be surprised. It was a hard job coming in, based on recruiting challenges and the roster inherited.
Okay Matt, let's play that game. Let's talk about the roster for a second. Steve inherited a team with three NBA first round picks, one second round pick, and two seniors who made NBA teams. So assuming Powell makes an NBA roster that means he had a team with 6 NBA players. Yet:
- You fail to win both games of a road trip all season despite only 2 of those teams being ranked
- Despite an experienced team with three upperclassman you finish the year 5-5 on the road
- You only get a four seed because of losses to gawd awful teams like WSU who finish 10-21
Is that a good result? Would most schools extend his contract? Oh, wait, in fairness Steve did do some one-of-a-kind things for UCLA that you forgot to mention.
Let's talk about his second "Inarguable success" campaign What UCLA records did it set for such a successful season?
Kentucky 83 v. UCLA 47. The opening 24-0 run was eight shy of the record between two Division I teams, set by Connecticut against New Hampshire on Dec. 12, 1990. And the 39-point margin was nine shy of the Bruins' record. Kentucky led 41-7 at the intermission. It was the lowest point total in a half for UCLA and the fewest by a Kentucky opponent since December 1943.
[But wait that wasn't the lowest scoring game of the season because] UCLA 39 v Utah 71 UCLA shot just 29 percent from the field and was 1 of 11 from 3-point range.. . . Then the Utes' defense finished off the Bruins, who had a long scoring drought in each half. . . . After UCLA got back within six, the Bruins missed 11 straight shots over the final six minutes before halftime. Utah made its second 11-0 run of the half, and the Utes led 32-15 at the break. . . . UCLA made just one field goal in the opening six minutes of the second half as Utah extended the lead further on a 14-0 spurt, going ahead 46-17 when Dakarai Tucker turned a steal by Wright into a layup. The Utes led by as many as 35 points.
[I don't have the time to check this record but I guarantee you it has been a while since a team, any team, has shot this well against the Bruins. ] UCLA 64 v. Oregon 82. Young led five scorers in double figures with 16 points as Oregon rode 75 percent shooting from the field in the first half and Dwayne Benjamin's perfect game off the bench to the victory. . . . However, the Ducks made all that moot with their best first half of the season, hitting 16 of their first 20 shots, including their first six 3s, for a 42-21 lead by the 3:55 mark. Eight Oregon players contributed to the 46-31 halftime margin, though none had more than eight points as four Ducks had at least one 3-pointer.
So of Alford's two teams, one likely underachieved in hindsight and the other had three of the most embarrassing defeats in UCLA history or heck any team that went to the sweet 16.
Back to Matt. He does touch on the Bryce Alford issue but again spins in a way that is more one sided than most political conventions for their nominees.
The obvious and interesting aspect for the Bruins now, the dynamic that's going to define the program's success next season and probably in 2017: Bryce Alford running the point. Can Steve's son maintain playing at a level that's going to make his father look good, and who's feeling more pressure right now?
Almost 90 percent of his team's minutes, in fact. Yet Bryce Alford shot 39 percent from 3 and wasn't foul-prone. A good sign going forward. And perhaps he's adjusted his father's scope a little, too.
Let's briefly respond to that one:
- On minutes, should Bryce have played more minutes than LaVine his freshman year? Should Bryce have not been benched a few minutes at times, say when he was going 2-26 in the Utah-Colorado trip?
- On FG%, 39% from three is nice, 39% overall is not. Especially when he takes 194 2 pointers.
- UCLA was 4-0 in games where Bryce shot less than 10 times, 1-5 in games where he had 10 or more misses.
- And let's close with a Duh. Bryce wasn't foul prone because he didn't play defense. Hard to foul when you aren't even trying.
But what really troubles me about this article is the fact that the author acts as if UCLA should be happy with being in the top 25 a few times during the last two years. UCLA isn't Kentucky. Kentucky fans would be out for blood on Alford. But screw that, let's talk about the last three UCLA coaches. Lets put it this way:
- Howland in his third season took UCLA to the championship game
- Lavin in his first season took UCLA to the elite eight
- Harrick in his fourth season took UCLA to the Elite eight.
In his fourth season Steve Alford will likely still have his greatest accomplishment being his son playing point guard on offense.
Go Bruins! CBS, please, give the tournament to someone who cares about college basketball enough to hire writers who actually research their stories and put more effort into to them than their websites.